Pregnancy and labour: It’s not as straightforward as you think

Pregnancy and labour

I have to fess up now: in terms of pregnancy and labour, mine was “relatively” straightforward…I use the word relatively because that’s what it is – it’s all relative. Yes of course I had all the usual gripes that people tend to have but we didn’t have any major issues which could have swayed the path of either in a life changing way.

However what I have realised thereafter – somewhat terrifyingly – is just how lucky we were to be in that camp, and how things could have been very different as they have been with so many others.

While I do think the NHS is doing a fantastic job under an ever increasing amount of pressure, I can’t help but call to mind some of the worrying facts and figures I have heard which have made me wonder….is the safety of mother and unborn child always at the forefront?  Are expectant mums really being clear and accurate advice about the risks and outcomes? Could some of the mistakes, accidents and poor outcomes in fact actually be avoided?

For example, the Care Quality Comission maternity survey (2015) found that 62% of women are not seeing the same midwife for their antenatal appointments – even though 28% of these women wanted to see the same midwife and were not able to. I can’t help thinking that this passing of the baton means that things could easily fall through the gaps. Is it any wonder then that 15% of women surveyed also said that the midwives were not always aware of their medical history?

Moreover, the CQC survey also found that although 98% of women said they had a telephone number for a midwife or midwifery team that they could contact, 26% of women were not always able to get the help they wanted, with 20% only receiving help sometimes and 6% reporting that they were unable to get the help they needed.

To me, in a world where so much is being done by campaigners like Kicks Counts, SANDS and Tommy’s, this just sounds absolutely crazy. We always urge expectant mums to seek advice if they are unsure about something, or if something has changed in pregnancy, but where does this leave them given the above statistics?

And then there is the birth. We all have such grand plans with our birth plans but I for one know that how after so many hours of labour that can all too easily go out of window. Quite honestly, after ten hours of agony and feeling utterly exhausted, I know that I was not in any state of mind to make any decision about what needed to happen to progress my labour to delivery  – so is it any wonder that the CQC Maternity survey also found that a quarter of women felt they were not always involved in decisions about their care during labour and birth. But the fact of the matter is that by law, your wishes must be respected and your consent to medical procedures is mandatory.

Let’s move on to post natal care. It seems gone are the days when you could actually recover from birth IN hospital. In fact, British new mums have the shortest hospital stays in Europe! But it’s not just the duration that seems to be lacking compared to our European counterparts but also the quality of the care a mum should receive in order that she be nurtured to a level where she can be strong enough to care for her new baby.

Mumsnet have recognised this potential gap in the quality of our maternity services with their “aftercare, not afterthought” campaign. Their recent survey had some startling results about the state of post-natal care for mums in the UK.

Of the women surveyed by Mumsnet, 45% were sometimes unable or not able at all to access pain relief when they needed it.  Even more distressingly, the survey found that 61% had been unable to access food when they needed it and 21% had been unable to access water –  basic human requirements and supremely important in being able to get your health and post birth healing process back on track.

So you see, before becoming a mum, I always thought that pregnancy and childbirth should be a straightforward thing. BAHAHAHA! Now I’m on the other side although although in relation to the many other cases out there mine probably was relatively speaking; the fact of that matter is that for so many people….it is not – and in some cases may actually result clinical negligence.

Pregnancy and labour: It's not as straightforward as you think

How did your view of pregnancy and labour change once you have experienced it? And what do you think about the above statistics? Do share in a comment below.

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*This is a collaborative post 

10 comments

  1. Having had two pregnancies and labours I now know how different they are and how the care can vary. I have been lucky that the hospital/labour care has always been outstanding, but the midwife care during pregnancy was pretty awful. It’s such a magical thing our bodies do and it certainly is a complicated process!

  2. I’ve had two pregnancies and labours now, and a have varying experiences. Thankfully throughout both of my pregnancies I always saw the same midwife, and generally had good experiences. The aftercare with my second was awful though, and it’s had a negative knock on effect!
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  3. My care in the hospital during and after labour with my eldest was horrendous. I was very lucky with my youngest though and had an amazing team during my delivery and after he was born. It did take me 3 – 6 hours at times to finally reach someone in the hospital when I was pregnant though.. so that wasn’t ideal.I think the NHS is in desperate need of more funding.

  4. My labour itself was straight forward enough until it came to stage two (the pushing bit). I was in stage two for far longer than I should have been and only after I begged my husband to do something did the midwife call a doctor for an opinion. Turns out our son had got his head caught between my pelvic bone and his shoulder and wasn’t going to come out unaided. Plus, the midwife had lost his heartbeat twice but hubby didn’t tell me this until after. We are lucky nothing happened to either of us and I’m grateful for my husband having the courage to demand a second opinion. We heard of a similar situation to us that ended far worse than ours. I really should have stayed in hospital longer but they turfed me out after 24 hours. And my community midwives were less than useless. Had I have had my wits about me I would have demanded better care but as a new mum, you don’t know any better. The result of all of this is our son is an only child as I was too scared to consider baby number two.
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